The Boomer Personality Part 1

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I belong to the baby boomer generation. The cohort that begins with 1946 and ends with 1964 more or less. That group is now approaching their “twilight” years and close to or at retirement.

Our parents were products of the depression and global war. The men came home from the battlefields of Europe and as antidote to the mayhem and destruction settled down to build homes, cars that were moored rather than parked, and they acquired dutiful wives with whom to procreate 2.7 kids. Our moms. Aprons, chocolate chip cookies and lots of hugs.

And so the 50’s and early 60’s were born. Suburbia, strip malls, and boredom. And how did my generation repay this era of stability and staid God-fearing conservatism? Why rebellion of course. Enter the late 60’s, pot, LSD, protest, bra burning, sit ins, lie ins and Woodstock.

Although it produced some lasting and positive social changes as the result of feminism and other ism’s, eventually my generation gave us the 80s, a decade of wretched excess, greed and debt driven consumerism. The birth of exploitative, hoarding and marketing characters ….”who  see themselves as commodities and value themselves against the criterion of their ability to sell themselves and others who are viewed as commodities. They have few positive qualities because they are essentially empty” (Erich Fromm).

Hippies evolved into Yuppies. The Culture of Narcissism as it has been termed was now in full bloom, citizens of which are obsessed with  power, prestige and vanity, and mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to others and the environment. Pathological narcissists as they are referred to clinically, are created by parental overvaluation and excessive  admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback. They do not do well with traditional therapy seeking instead quick fixes with life coaches and mindfulness training.

And these folk have now reproduced, giving birth to another generation of self indulged narcissists euphemistically referred to as Gen X. The computer kids whose ideas of interpersonal connectedness is texting, X boxes,selfies and cyber bullying.

The thing about the cluster B disorders like the narcissistic type  is they are self-perpetuating, so that without major social upheaval, changes to more empathy generating parenting styles will not be forthcoming. Without a trend to more balance parenting we can expect at least in western culture more of the same entitled narcissist behaviour.

Case Example: John 45, married, 2 kids, 3 cars, a boat, a house in the country and one in the City.  He was CEO of a company that organized conventions. It was a success. He printed his own currency.

I saw him at first because of a probation requirement following a conviction of dangerous firearm use. He really hated snow machines as drivers plowed through his property lines. So he shot at them.

Now John was born of hardworking demanding but very indulgent Finnish parents. Finland is one of the planets’ most successful countries. After all they gave us cell phones and Angry Birds. I have had several Finnish patients and they are hard to work with. On the surface they are cold and fairly unapproachable. The main reason being is that Finns don’t talk much. Because they don’t, one never knows what they are thinking. Not good therapy material. But as well as being an obnoxious narcissist John was  also obsessional in character, (personality disorders tend to blend). And the best treatment for a narcissistic Type A overweight Finn with hypertension is a heart attack. Which is what happened.

That seemed  to be more therapeutic and he made some lifestyle and warm fuzzy character changes. Time wounds all heals.

In part two I will explore the relationship between the boomer personality and the phenomenon of ex pat relocation to Central America.

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